More than 122 people were shot and killed by police in Kenya over the first eight months of 2016, representing a seven per cent increase over the same period last year.

This finding is contained in Deadly Force, the most comprehensive database on death from police encounters ever published in Kenya. It was compiled from media and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) reports as well as reference records from human rights organisations.

This year, the number of killings by police is on track to surpass the 2015 count of more than 140 deaths, data from the special project, built by Nation Newsplex suggests.

Investigations by Newsplex in  Kibera and Mathare slums in Nairobi suggests that the number of police killings is much higher, since many incidents are not followed up by police and are not reported to the media or human rights organisations

The eight months of 2016 are included in an inventory stretching back over 20 months to January 2015. In that time, the police have killed at least 262 people, or about 13 people every month.  

But investigations by Newsplex in  Kibera and Mathare slums in Nairobi suggests that the number of police killings is much higher, since many incidents are not followed up by police and are not reported to the media or human rights organisations.

An overwhelming majority of the people killed in the 20 months were young men and boys. During this period 248 males (95 per cent) and 14 females (five per cent) were killed.

Newsplex was able to identify the ages of the victims in one out of six killings.  Of those identified, youth aged 16-25 are more likely to be killed by police than any other age group. The dead were mostly causal labourers and the unemployed.

Often, because of the socioeconomic background of the victims, most cases of police killings go unnoticed by Kenyans but this was not the case in 2011 when a man and his son were shot dead on by police sparking protests in Kawangware, Nairobi.

Mr Ibrahim Okech Ondego, 46, and his son, Joseph Nyaberi, 14, left their house in Kawangware at around 4am heading to Gikomba market to buy vegetables which he sold along Naivasha Road when they met two plainclothes police officers who claimed they were pursuing gangsters.

Residents said the police shot them and then a double-cabin pick-up arrived, and one of the occupants came out with a pistol and a panga which he placed besides the bodies.

The vehicle sped away and the two officers put the bodies in another pick-up and drove off.  Police later announced that they had recovered two pangas and a pistol.

In that case, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights moved to court to seek justice for Ondego's family. In 2014, the High Court judge Isaac Lenaola ordered the government to compensate the family with Sh2 million for each of the two people killed.

CARE OF CHILDREN

The National Police Service Act 2011 Schedule 6 provides that firearms may only be used when less extreme means are inadequate and for the following purposes: (a) saving or protecting the life of the officer or other person; and  (b) in self-defence or in defence of other person against imminent threat of life or serious injury.  

The schedule further provides that an officer intending to use firearms shall identify themselves and give clear warning of their intention to use firearms, with sufficient time for the warning to be observed, except: (a) where doing so would place the officer or other person at risk of death or serious harm; or b) if it would be clearly inappropriate or pointless in the circumstances.

In another prominent case, Justice Martin Muya of the High Court in Mombasa found two former police officers, Veronica Gitahi (former DCIO Kinango) and Constable Issa Mzee, guilty of  manslaughter of a primary school girl, Kwekwe Mwandaza.

The 14-year-old was fatally shot by the officers in Kinango on August 2014. The two claimed that the girl had attacked them as they were discharging their duties and that they shot her after she attacked them with a machete.

The Police Service Act 2011 states in the Sixth Schedule that a police officer shall make every effort to avoid the use of firearms, especially against children.

Amid outcry from the public and human rights organisations, the Independent Medico Legal Unit (IMLU) filed an application under a certificate of urgency at Mombasa High Court (Mombasa High Miscellaneous Criminal Application No. 77 of 2014), seeking orders for exhumation of the body of the deceased for purposes of conducting an independent post mortem examination. IPOA also launched an investigation.

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